Forms of Knowledge

The Forms of Knowledge

At the London University Institute of Education we were preparing post graduates for teaching in secondary schools. Each school subject had a department dealing with practical aspects of teaching. I was one of four lecturers in the Geography Department. In addition we were expected to attend the general Friday lectures in what were regarded as four vital subjects relevant to all teachers. These were Psychology, History, Sociology and Philosophy of Education.

The lectures were delivered in the main lecture theatre which was always packed, and were relayed through the public address system to at least one other large hall. Students from all the teacher training colleges in the London Region as well as those who were admitted to the Institute itself were expected to listen. The lecturing staff including the Dean and Director and some senior administrators, also attended.  The total audience must have numbered over a thousand. There were discussion sessions with small groups, led by members of the lecturing staff, to follow up these talks.

Paul Hirst, a philosopher and a very good speaker, gave one lecture each year about the various conditions which, he claimed, any academic discipline must satisfy if it was to be worthy of inclusion in the school curriculum. I followed his argument with interest and, up to a point, approval. He listed eight forms of knowledge.

Geography was omitted. I was alarmed. If our subject was not knowledge, what could we be teaching?

At the first opportunity I spoke to Paul and in this and many later conversations and arguments we became friends although I never fully agreed with him. I published several papers in which demonstrate my own subsequent thinking in this area.

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